Tuesday, 10 March 2015
A book of my short stories and photographs has been published. The stories are a journey through life from the very young to the very old, and there are young and old in all of them. It's available in hardback and paperback from local bookshops in fourteen countries and also on Amazon. The paperback is the better edition, better designed and it has an additional story.
The best of the stories is probably this one. It's called The Farm:
The man was five-times older than the boy who, at eight years old, had taken it on himself to make sure that the man was safe during his extended stay on the farm. The man was from a foreign country and was not used to life on a farm. The boy knew this from the man’s clothes, which were quite unsuitable for the dirt and dust difficulties of farm life. When the workers were castrating the new bulls, the boy made sure the man stood away from the fence when the boys opened the gate to the corral and drove the nervous bulls inside. He did this gently by showing the man the proper hand-foot-hand-foot way to get down from the high fence. And when they had both got down from the fence, the boy said: “You need to step back. You need to step away from the fence.”
The man did as he was told.
When the farmer’s knife came out, the man said: “You don’t need to see this bit.” And he tried to cover the boy’s eyes, but the boy stepped away and said: “It doesn’t bother me. I’ve seen it lots of times already. I saw it first when I was five.”
The bulls did make the most awful sound.
The boy asked the man: “What sound did you think cows made before you came here?”
The man said: “Moo.”
“Now you know the truth,” said the boy. With a concentrated seriousness, the boy then demonstrated the three distinct noises of real bulls and real cows.
And now the man and the boy were walking to the lake in the middle of the farm. It’s a big lake, clean and stocked with spiky sport-fish for catching and eating. But they didn’t fish. They skimmed stones. The boy’s best was seven. The man bettered the seven by seven.
On the walk home, they walked with a bend in their spine and hand on their hip and they talked in voices that sounded like they were Mid-Western old-timers.
“I remember when injuns used to come up here all a-hollerin’ and makin’ mischief,” said the man.
“Old Black Hawk sure was one mean old man,” said the boy, hunched over, and talking with an old man’s voice. “But he was smart.”
“Been here longer than us. Knew the land better than us. Gotta give him that.”
The boy unstooped briefly to pick up a stick and use it as a walking-stick. Now he walked along with one hand on his side and one hand on the stick. It took some effort not to break character and use the stick to hit loose stones. “But I’m so old, I remember when Black Hawk was born. Cried like a baby he did.” The boy did the wah-wah cry of a
“I remember his papa bein’ born,” said the man, and that made the boy laugh.
When the boy was done laughing, the man said: “You see that barn?”
“I do,” said the boy, in an old man’s voice, stretching out the vowels.
“I built that barn with these fair hands.”
“Those cottonwood trees,” said the boy. “Planted ‘em all. Tiny seeds, but a lot of diggin’. Yes, sir!”
“‘Pressive. Grown good. That hill though,” said the man raising his head to a small hill behind the farmhouse. “Made it mostly from earth I moved to build the house.
We worked hard in those days.”
“We worked good,” said the boy.
They walked for a long time without talking.